Taylor Heinicke, former St. Louis BattleHawks quarterback, is now expected to start multiple games for the NFL’s Washington Football Team. During the season opener against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, Ryan Fitzpatrick was ruled out early due to an injury. Heinicke, the backup, went on to play the remainder of the game, completing 11 of 15 passes for 122 yards and 1 touchdown.
On Monday, Washington announced Fitzpatrick would be placed on injured reserve with a hip subluxation, ruling him out for six to eight weeks. The team then said Heinicke would be the new starter for the foreseeable future, and that they don’t plan to sign another quarterback. Many had speculated that Washington was interested in Cam Newton, who was released by the New England Patriots during final roster cuts just a few weeks ago. Newton had spent nine seasons with the Carolina Panthers under head coach Ron Rivera, who became Washington’s head coach in 2020.
Heinicke also had previous experience with Ron Rivera, as he had been with the Panthers in 2018. Before that, he was a member of the Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, and Houston Texans. Going back even further, Heinicke played college football at Old Dominion from 2011 to 2014.
Fast forward to 2020 again, and Heinicke was signed by Washington after the COVID-19 pandemic cut the XFL season short. In week 16, he appeared in his first game after Dwayne Haskins was benched due to poor performance. In the fourth quarter of a 20-13 loss to his old team, the Panthers, Heinicke completed 12 of 19 passes for 137 yards and 1 touchdown. Haskins was cut after this game, and starter Alex Smith returned for week 17. However, after Washington made the playoffs and were scheduled to play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Smith was ruled out again due to an injury. This put Heinicke back in the starting role, and he took advantage of the opportunity. Although Washington lost the Wild Card game against the Buccaneers 31-23, Heinicke managed to throw for 306 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for an additional 46 yards and another touchdown.
This performance against the Super Bowl LV champions earned Heinicke a two-year contract extension the following offseason. Now, he has a real chance to prove he can be a starter in the NFL. If all goes well, Heinicke could potentially be Washington’s quarterback of the future.
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